|Issue:||Africa and the Middle East 2009|
|Topic:||Focus on your strengths|
|Title:||Vice President of Marketing|
Amit Daniel is the Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for Starhome; she has 15 years of experience in the telecommunications sector. Prior to assuming her current position, she served as Starhome’s Director of Product Management. Ms Daniel previously worked at Golden Lines where she served as Director of International Carrier Relations for America, Asia and Western Europe. Amit Daniel holds a B.A. in Marketing and an MBA in International Marketing
Africa’s mobile operators often make roaming alliances with other operators and have a vested interest in retaining outbound roamers’ traffic within the alliances. This makes Steering of Roaming (SoR) solutions especially important in Africa’s mobile marketplace. Inbound roamers must be detected, maintained and controlled to preserve the roaming revenues. Operators can achieve this while reducing costs by using Gateway Location Register solutions, which reduce the number of signalling messages in the system, lower expenses and control inbound roaming activities within the network.
Africa’s power Among Africa’s greatest strengths are its huge landmass and its youthful, growing, population. Because of Africa’s size, the majority of mobile roamers within the continent are subscribers travelling from one African country to another. Africa’s mobile operators often belong to groups and/or alliances, so mobile operators have a vested interest in ensuring that the traffic of outbound roamers is retained within their specific grouping. This important business objective highlights the importance of Steering of Roaming (SoR) solutions for Africa, especially in the aggressive and competitive African mobile marketplace. Meanwhile, inbound roamers must be detected, maintained and controlled, so that mobile operators can preserve one of their most important revenue streams. African operators can now achieve this goal while actually lessening costs. Focus on fundamentals One of the few positive aspects of the worldwide economic downturn is that it has succeeded in refocusing the attention of mobile operators on their core business. As revenues have tightened, many operators are concentrating on getting back to basics and using the proper fundamentals to weather the storm. VPMN (visited public mobile network) operators – operators who let roaming subscribers to use their GSM networks – get most of their revenue from incoming calls. It is only natural, then, that operators are currently seeking inbound management solutions to ensure that this important revenue source is protected and even enhanced. Flexing inbound muscles The majority of operator roaming revenue comes from inbound roaming. Yet this important revenue stream is more difficult than ever to preserve, due to competition from other VPMNs and the steering of roamers to partner networks by home public mobile networks (HPMNs). Gateway Location Register solutions are increasing in popularity, because they let VPMNs significantly reduce the number of signalling messages sent to the signalling provider, and towards other HPMNs. This reduction lowers expenses and provides control over inbound roamers’ activities within the network. Gateway Location Register solutions can provide reports identifying the locations where inbound roamers leave the network to go to another competing network in the country (leakage). Information is collected on a real-time or history basis and enables operators to optimise their network radio coverage based on the leakage reports. The solution activates operations to keep the visitor in the network as long as possible, while following the 3GPP recommendations. Reduced signalling significantly lowers expenses, and gives greater control over inbound roamers’ activities in the operators’ networks; it also helps protect and grow their most important revenue stream. HPMNs control the visited networks where their outbound roamers register based on their own business objectives; this leaves VPMNs without any defence against their competitors. VPMNs are searching for new methods to preserve their inbound roaming revenues. Additionally, users’ handsets continually send signals to the home network, which leads to a loss of revenue for mobile operators. Gateway Location Register solutions are increasing in popularity, because they provide VPMNs with the ability to significantly reduce the number of signalling messages sent to the signalling provider, and towards other HPMNs. This reduction lowers expenses and provides control over inbound roamers’ activities within the network. The leading Gateway Location Register solutions are based on the common SS7 type network. As handsets of all types adhere to the GSM standard in regards to the basic network selection process, this solution is completely handset-independent, which provides flexibility for users and operators. Gateway Location Register solutions reduce signalling related to location changes in the VPMN by 70 per cent, enhancing cost savings and reducing the efficiency of Steering of Roaming (SoR) solutions, by managing the majority of location changes (between VLRs – visitor location registers) locally within the network. Typically, a mobile operator can increase its revenue and traffic by 10-20 per cent after implementing a Gateway Location Register solution. Flexible steering Operators seek to more accurately control the registration of their outbound roamers to different visited networks by steering non-compliant handsets that occasionally do not respond to SS7-based steering (rejects). They also wish to reduce the extra traffic of international signalling without compromising steering performance and improve subscriber user experience by reducing the necessity of rejects. Operators select and prioritise roaming partners based on criteria such as the inter-operator tariff (IOT) agreements, group operator alliances, quality of service (QoS), and coverage and traffic volume. Therefore, it is in the best interests of the operators that their outbound roaming subscribers select a preferred network in each visited country, but existing methods are limited in their ability to control network selection. Mobile operators are finding that flexibility equals strength, which is one of the main reasons fuelling the surge in popularity of hybrid SoR solutions. These hybrid solutions are comprised of two key components: • Over the air (OTA) interfaces and correction measures; and • SS7 settings for redirection limits, patterns and abnormal situations Operators can choose using over the air SIM control, including integration of SS7 rejection methods. Enhanced SIM/OTA capabilities, as well as advanced R.99 handsets, provides operators full remote control over their outbound subscribers to go along with the newfound flexibility. The hybrid solution facilitates total, real-time steering of operators’ outbound roamers. Dynamic SIM updates driven by business logic provide operators with a powerful steering tool. The hybrid solution offers improved steering, while reducing a substantial amount of international traffic, so operators can better meet business objectives. It also enables operators to steer different subscriber segments to the networks that provide the specific services required, such as 3G or CAMEL. In addition, the SIM/OTA integration offers more robust immunity to anti-SoR activities. Hybrid steering provides a higher probability that the roamer will be successfully redirected to the preferred partner network. It also gives roamers better response times and significantly lowers signalling traffic to/from the VPMN, without compromising performance. Harnessing the over the air (OTA) medium enables dynamic update of the SIM data of roaming subscribers to match the operator’s steering policy at any time. It allows operators to better steer non-compliant handsets that do not respond to SS7-based steering (rejects). Driven by a user-friendly graphical user interface (GUI), operators can simply configure their hybrid steering solution’s feature-rich steering policy. This configuration enables the application to automatically generate and send appropriate SIM data files, such as the preferred public land mobile network (PLMN) list, to roaming subscribers based on their location, as well as on their preferred services. An effective hybrid steering solutions should be GSMA-compliant and transparent to subscribers and roaming partners. It must also provide a strong incentive for operator groups and preferred network partners; it can also serve as a valuable aid in roaming agreement negotiations. Endurance as strength Sometimes strength is obvious, such as the bulging arms of a weightlifter, and other times it is more subtle, like the lean and enduring legs of a marathon runner. Mobile operators seeking to endure the current financial climate are well advised to re-focus on their core strengths in order to endure. This means protecting inbound roaming revenues and ensuring the greatest possible steering efficiency.